I haven’t written personally for a long time, life has been busy and though I have kept a journal for going through some difficult periods, it didn’t seem appropriate to share it. But today I was awoken to the news that my grandmother, had died. Though she was old, aged 95, it was slightly unexpected as there was no deterioration of health from her previous state.
I have been watching the video below which perfectly sums up my mood, one of sober sadness and nostalgia for all the happy memories with the person who has passed, with a sense of happiness and joy for my grandmother as she passes on to her new life. She was a beautiful and kind person, quiet and an amazing artist too. She and my grandfather met on a boat from England to Kenya after World War II, they got married and built a life out there. She was a very sensitive soul and I always wondered whether living out in the tough outback of Kenya was conducive to her wellbeing. She produced 3 children, one of them my father and they returned to the UK in 1963. After 45 years in the UK, she returned to Kenya to live contently out her days on the sunny coast. Sadly, I never got to see her after she moved out there, I had planned to see her next year after my studies finished. That is the problem with life, nothing is certain and there is no security to be found in this world. I reflect on death quite a bit, it is part of my practice and helps me live in the present rather than building sandcastles for a future which may not come. So I thought I would write a post about death, a taboo and difficult subject.
When I reflect on death, I usually think about my own mortality and it’s inevitability; and that it will most likely come without warning. There is no escaping it. It is a scary thought sometimes. But rather than running away from this fear with the endless distractions of the world, facing it can be very rewarding and bring about a lot of peace to the mind.
I think about my parents, friends and family and how they will become separated from me, nothing I love and treasure will last, no-thing lasts. There has been a lot of grief over the last few years as this truth has started to erase old beliefs of finding permanence in this impermanent world. Rather than this being depressing as some may well imagine, I have found it liberating. The old habits of building hopes and dreams on shaky foundations have faded(though not completely) and given rise to a more equanimous way of looking at the world. That is the world of family, friends, animals and all other things that arise in my awareness. This has meant a lessening of worries and material ambitions and a much more compassionate awareness of other people and other beings, as a growing sense of that fact that we are all in this together. No one escapes death. However, these contemplations are not meant to sound bleak, but to motivate one to practice meditation in order to find that which is beyond death. I cannot escape death, but I can realize the truth that I was never born and will never die. In other words, by no longer identifying with this body and mind which I have taken to be me for so long, I can find that which is beyond body and mind.
To my beautiful Grand Ma
Whatever goodness that has arisen from my thoughts, words and actions, may it be passed onto to you and may you realise the happiness of peace. Thank you for sharing your life with me and blessings for your new life.